I asked my husband, “Is this what it’s like? Is this how people feel when they wake up?”
I was staring at him with the awe of a child staring into a candy shop window. He stared right back like I was crazy. Then I think I said, “Wow” really dreamily once or twice.
Today, I’ve been up since 4 a.m. I startled awake when some electronic device in the room made a small sound. My husband lay sprawled out in oblivious slumber. The dog was out cold on my legs and the cat was sound asleep on my head.
I spent the next two hours trying to shoo the random thoughts (not to mention the cat) from my head so that I could go back to sleep. I tried desperately to ignore the chinchillas running on their wheel, the dog's steady snore, the fan's whirling — and then, just as I could feel myself starting to drift, the alarm started blaring.
Are you kidding me? It was time to get up already?
I’ve never been a good sleeper. It’s not falling asleep that's the problem, it’s staying asleep.
If I wake up, it’s a battle of frustration that goes on for hours.
The instant I awake, my brain starts thinking of the things I have to do that day, what I’m going to make for dinner, dictating e-mails I need to write, pondering important questions like, “Do I like pink better than purple?” When I consider this, I think how I have flip-flops in both colors. I remember I had black ones with a cute bow but they broke when I went out to lunch at that place. What's the name of that place? The salad was so good there. That's what I should make for dinner, a salad. I wonder if there's a tomato in the garden. Did I water the garden?
It goes on and on like that, no matter how hard I try to stop my train of thought. It’s like my brain is one of those people that "bing" happily awake and jump out of bed to start their day. I'm really annoyed by those people. Almost as much as the people who are able to nap.
I had a roommate who could nap anytime, anyplace. It was fascinating, yet incredibly irritating at the same time.
Oh sure, sometimes I actually do fall back to sleep — and then I dream things like trying to find my keys or scrubbing toilets or pulling weeds in an endless yard — what the heck is that?! Like it’s not enough to do those things when you’re awake, so I have to dream about them, too? Why can’t I dream of eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream while taking a relaxing bubble bath?
I’ve tried spraying lavender on my pillowcase, repeating the word “nothing” over and over in an attempt to clear the thoughts that immediately cloud my mind; I’ve tried not eating before bed, listening to soothing music, you name it. Nothing works.
And I’m afraid to take medication — at this point I am so sleep-deprived I fear I may never wake up from it! Instead, I’ve just accepted it.
I ignore the people who act surprised that it rained overnight. I get up and check that I put away the milk because I know I’m just going to lay there and worry about it otherwise.
I keep plenty of under-eye concealer in stock, and I try to think of the positives. Like the fact that I have my agenda for the day before my feet even hit the ground. And if one of my kids wakes up sick, or the dog has an emergency bathroom request, I’m on it — no problem. Besides, if it weren’t for my insomnia, I would’ve never met my best friend, Joe — as in coffee.
And, at times, I’m amazed at the amount of things I can accomplish before noon.
Somehow my body has adjusted to functioning with very little sleep. I’m not happy about it, but it’s just the way it is.
So, if you see me sometime and I look really tired, just know that’s the look I’m going with — no need to ask why. And if possibly you find me staring in a blank daze at you while you’re talking, please do not take offense. I am listening, but the words are just taking awhile to register.
And, whatever you do, please don't feel sorry for me — because someday, when we’re in our golden years, I’ll be leaving the early bird special before you even arrive! Don't worry though, I'll try to save you some bacon.
— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist